On the surface LeBron James returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers seems like a huge win for the organization. He gives the team instant credibility. The team will likely sell out all of its home games. The city’s prodigal son has returned.
All the above statements are true, but further examination may determine that Cleveland may regret this decision.
It seems crazy that a team could regret signing the best player in the world. However, that is not all they got when they signed James. Although his title may simply be starting small forward, he is the de facto president of operations for the Cavaliers. James signing a two-year contract was a clear sign that if the Cavaliers don’t subject themselves to the King’s wishes, he will walk away again.
James is a great player but he wants control over the personnel around him. That is a slippery slope. First off, players tend to want to put together fantasy teams that don’t mesh well on the court. Michael Jordan often wanted Jerry Krause to make trades, many of them for fellow North Carolina Tar Heels. Luckily for the Chicago Bulls, Krause ignored Jordan. One of his most famous requests was that the Bulls needed to select Joe Wolf in the 1987 draft. Wolf went on to have a 12-year career, a career in which he averaged 4.2 points and 3.3 rebounds.
Players always think they have better answers than management. Management is not always right, but players tend to be extremely shortsighted when it comes to decision making.
Right now the Cavaliers are under pressure to get Kevin Love to pair with James. In theory Love would make the Cavaliers favorites in the Eastern Conference. The problem is, at what cost?
Andrew Wiggins will likely have to be a part of any deal made to get Love. While Love averages a double-double, no one knows how he will react to the pressure of the playoffs because he has never been. Added to the problem with giving up too soon on the No. 1 overall pick Wiggins is the fact the Minnesota Timberwolves would want draft picks as well.
As the Cavaliers are made up right now they could grow into a dominant team in a couple years. They also have a few draft picks next season that could give them tremendous depth to their roster. Does it make sense to give up the flexibility of growth in the future for a maybe? Not to mention, the team would be crazy to make the trade if Love isn’t willing to sign an extension right away.
Another possible problem the Cavaliers face is that James’ agent is also the agent to Tristan Thompson. When an agent has a star player on a team and another client, the agent uses the leverage of the star to get their other client a better deal.
Grantland.com mentioned it was widely speculated that the Houston Rockets allowed Chandler Parsons out of his one-year deal early because he has the same agent as Dwight Howard. Houston could’ve kept Parsons and his salary this season would have been under $1 million. Now, he is a member of the Dallas Mavericks.
While Thompson has shown some flashes, how much money should be thrown at a guy who averages 11 points and 9 rebounds?
All that added to the fact that Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving already have chemistry issues. Waiters tweeting out today that he is not willing to come off the bench was like adding water to a grease fire. He deleted the original tweet but here is a follow up.
— Dion Waiters (@dionwaiters3) July 15, 2014
If Waiters thinks he is fighting for minutes now, just wait. According to ESPN.com the Cavaliers agreed to terms with Mike Miller. Ray Allen is probably next on that list. Are James and a rookie coach going to be able to navigate through chemistry issues? Can James really trust Dan Gilbert?
Right now, everything in Cleveland is pure joy. What happens if this does not all go according to plan? In two seasons, will there be heartbreak again in Cleveland? Cleveland must be honest with itself and admit if James and the Heat three-peat as NBA Champions he is probably not a member of the Cavaliers right now. What happens if in two years the team has not gotten past the second round?
James is the Victor Newman (Young and the Restless) of the NBA. He is the most powerful man in the league. Like Newman, James swoops people off their feet and everything starts off great, but the problem is those relationships usually end in divorce.
For Cleveland’s sake, I hope this works out. If he were to leave again, it would be worse than Art Modell taking away the Cleveland Browns.
(AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)